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Foothills Adventures


This blog is to give you an insight to the goings on behind the scenes of my Foothill Rails website. The adventures of railfanning in Northern California and beyond for the purpose of expanding my site, the research, the inspirations and the frustrations, and the wonderful people who I get to meet. Also new ideas and any other thoughts that may arise.
Email at johnbarnhill@hotmail.com

  1. Media Life: ‘Ghost train’ due to materialize on historic bridge

    Gus Thomson/Media Life

    AUBURN CA - Things are going to get eerily historic soon on the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge.
    Plans are to use some temporary railroad tracks to position a 30,000-pound, oil-fired steam engine on the span over the American River in the canyon near Auburn – something that hasn’t been seen since the early part of the last century.
    But this particular steam engine isn’t just any old steam engine. It’s the last surviving locomotive from the days ...
  2. 99-year-old locomotive arrives in Auburn for bridge's 100th birthday party

    99-year-old locomotive arrives in Auburn for bridge's 100th birthday party
    By Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer


    AUBURN CA - The last of a line of locomotives that labored in the American River Canyon as part of the mine bringing limestone out of the Cool quarry, Engine No. 202 arrived in Auburn on Friday to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge.
    A little worse for wear after a recent run-in with copper thieves at the Clarksburg ...
  3. MQRR #202 Is Coming Home!

    As part of the 100th Anniversary of the Mountain Quarries RR, the sole survining locomotive will be returning to Auburn for display at a couple of the events lined up. Transportation, storage, and repairs/painting are basically nailed down. Hopefully we will have her ready for showing at the Confluence Festival in June at the American River Overlook in Auburn. The major goal is to have her on display on the Mountain Quarries Bridge for the Grand Finale celebration in September. All we need ...
  4. Iconic Auburn-area bridge turns 100

    Iconic Auburn-area bridge turns 100
    Gus Thomson/Auburn Journal
    AUBURN CA - Whatever you may want to call it, Placer County loves its Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge.
    Painted, photographed and just plain admired, the span that some dare to call “No Hands Bridge” has reached the spry old age of 100, with plenty of structural stability left in its concrete-arch frame.
    To celebrate the centennial of Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge (that’s the official name, although no
    ...
  5. 100 Years of the Mountain Quarries RR

    2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Mountain Quarries RR near Auburn,CA. Several events are in the planning stages or being finalized. This will hopefully culminate in having the single remaining locomotive posed on the "No Hands" Bridge in September. Alot of work is to still to be done to make this happen and eventually many volunteers may be needed to get'r done. I will be posting updates and event schedules as we go.

    As for now, for starters, there is an Art ...
  6. Mystery Boiler Found!



    Mike Lynch, supervising ranger of the Auburn SRA and I have heard rumors for years of a lost locomotive from the Mountain Quarries RR in Auburn. On occasion, this topic still arises but neither of us had ever seen it. From all the research, all the locomotives from this line are accounted for and no stories of derailments have been found. So what is this persistent story? One of our goals is ...
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  7. Bridge Re-Dedicated and a Caboose

    Up first this morning was a trip to Nevada City. Dave Braun recently passed away and his ex West Side/Swayne Lumber caboose is now at the railroad museum. Definately gonna take some work but plans are to restore her to the as built Swayne Lumber condition. Also caught the guys having some fun in the shop building a soapbox derby car.

    The Nevada Co Traction hasn't run in awhile and while visiting the area, I was able to give it a onceover as well. Re-shot all the motive power. Seems ...
  8. Anything For The Shot

    What do a doe, two wild turkeys, a squirrel, and a rattlesnake have in common? If you guessed that I've been out exploring again, you got it!

    The rattler was the best encounter. Only the second one I've ran accross while hiking old roadbeds. He was about four foot long and five or six years old if you counted his rattles. Though he was stretched across the right of way, there was no trouble as he quietly slipped out of my path.

    Anyhow, I was originally gonna write a ...
  9. Here Kitty Kitty or Not!

    With eleven straight days off for the holidays, I had to find something to entertain myself. What better than do some ghost railfanning. I wanted something close by so off to the Mountain Quarries RR I went.

    I've probably hiked the length of this line half a dozen times and taken hundreds of photos along the way. I've been toying with the idea of a photo tour of the line for the last few years but keep putting it off till I figure out just how I want to do it.

    Anyhow, ...
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  10. I killed the first battery!

    I did it! I killed the first battery for my new camera within 3 weeks! :D

    With the last few trips I've blogged about plus spending yesterday exploring the Nevada Co Narrow Guage and this morning spent back down in the canyon by my house shooting pics of the Mountain Quarries, I burned up my first battery. I can't even download the pics from my camera to share here. :D

    With all the talk about the Southern Pacific remains in the bottom of Shasta Lake, the Swayne and ...
  11. Cavern & A Castle (MQRR)

    First I gotta thank my mom for encouraging me to go digital. Now you are all in for it!

    Yesterday and today I spent some time down in the American River canyon exploring and photographing the remains of the Mountain Quarries Railroad east of No Hands Bridge and Hwy 49. This includes the quarry crusher/loadout.

    I took around 60 images for future projects on the site. As a tease, I wanted to share a couple.

    First up, at the bottom of the quarry the limestone ...
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  12. A short hike on the MQRR...

    In preparation for an upcoming row photo tour I'm adding the the Mountain Quarries page, I've been spending a little time along the row lately.

    This morning I went for a short hike to the sites of trestles 7-9. Shot a couple new pics but not much.

    The trail along the upper portions of the row is very lightly traveled but on occasion a group does some clearing with pruning shears and small saws. Just enought to make it passable. I could tell its been awhile since any ...
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